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Posted 01/12/21 by AI Wizard

Players and Organization

It's been pretty busy with the holidays and the world continuing to end, but we're getting back into the swing of things. With Omega Release under our belt, we're proceeding to a major internal refactor, usability pass, and dev playtest to make the game accessible for our playtesters later on with Psi Release.

Today it's time to talk about how players organize themselves. We know from our past games that player organization is the lifeblood of the game and we want to encourage big, impressive empires of players. At the same time, we've seen firsthand that exclusively giant orgs can feel bureaucratic and lifeless and even make the game unfun. We'll try to balance these scales by delineating between Avatars, Squads, and Organizations.

We've thought quite a bit about how players interact with one another at both the individual and group levels.

Avatars

Factsheet: Avatars

  • Analogous to characters
  • Owns physical assets (like drones) and intangible assets (like tech)
  • Can join Squads or Orgs
  • Can be account-bound (personal) or Organization-bound (communal)
  • Accounts start with one, may offer more later

In most games, you are your account - an identity intrinsically tied forever to your account ID and usually publicly exposed. Since one of Starfall's core design tenants is "information isn't free," this didn't make much sense for us. We wanted to pursue something more like the character model seen in many MMORPGs, where you interact with the world through a character and the account is more in the background.

You can consider Avatars the equivalent of characters. You'll give orders through your active Avatar. Avatars own the physical assets that exist on the map (which we've talked about before), and they also hold intangible things like unlocked technologies, designations, and squad and org memberships. Avatars can't be destroyed - if all of your physical assets are destroyed, the avatar will be granted some starting equipment to start over. Starting over isn't a death sentence, though - the fact that Avatars remember the techs they've unlocked means that your second (or third, or fourth) try will be exponentially faster than your first.

One of the advantages of using Avatars instead of accounts is that we don't have to limit this functionality to individual players. We can have players impersonate (play the game as) another Avatar. Organizations can create Avatars that are bound to that Org, and allow certain Squads the ability to use that Avatar. This makes things like centralized military forces possible, control of which can be delegated to authorized players via the ability to use their Avatar.

Squads

  • small, tight-knit units
  • preferably, a group of friends
  • share all permissions like allow repair, allow cargo add/remove, sensor data sharing
  • can join orgs or act independently
  • only for a group of avatars you trust

Organizations

  • large player organizations
  • avatars can join multiple (jury's out on how to UI this well)
  • can have squads, avatars, or both as members
  • can create avatars bound to that org
  • can designate squads to have permissions to use bound avatars. if the org is the United Federation of Planets and the squad is Starfleet, the avatar would be the Second Fleet - one controller for a bunch of drones that squad members could hop in to control as needed.